These stages are taken from Bob Steel’s Draw Me a Story: An Illustrated Exploration of Drawing-as-Language, ©1997.
This stage is typical of children between 18 months and 3 years.
- Scribbles are random. Children are exploring art materials in a playful way.
- Scribbles move from uncontrolled to progressively more controlled.
- This stage allows children to learn to hold a pencil as well as to determine whether they are left or right-handed.
- While you may not see it, some scribbles are named. The child will point to an object found in the scribble.
Scribbling helps children with:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Fine and gross muscle development
- Hand manipulation
- Naming or labeling
- Finger dexterity
- Fine muscle control
This stage is typical of children between the ages of 2 to 4.
- Drawings become more complex, although they are usually unrealistic.
- Children will tend to use their favorite colors, rather than represent objects in accurate colors.
- Drawings of people are very simple with few features.
- Objects in drawings float in space. They are not anchored.
- “Tadpole Figure People” are drawn with a very large head on a small body with extended arms.
- Interiors and exteriors are shown at the same time. (X-Ray Drawings)
Children continue to develop increased hand-eye coordination, fine and gross muscle development, and self-confidence during this stage.
Additionally, they are developing increased abilities in:
- Problem solving
- Feelings of competence
This stage is typical of children between 5 to 8.
- Drawings of people become more proportional and more detailed.
- Colors become more realistic and stereotypical (grass is green, the sky is blue).
- Skyline and ground lines start to show.
- Children have a schema about a way of drawing. For example, a house will be drawn the same way in many drawings.
- Children will often create stories to go along with their drawings.
At this stage, children will be developing skills important for art, science and mathematics including:
- Trial and error
This stage is typical of children between 9 to 11.
- Drawings become far more detailed.
- Much more spatial perspective is evident.
- Children at this stage may become very frustrated if they are unable to create a realistic picture.
- This is the time when children may express “I can’t draw.”